October 20th, 2020:
Justice4Mona is making headway! A big part of the advocacy work we’ve been doing with Mona since 2016 has been to take the legal steps necessary to fight for a retrial.
The next step in this process is to file for a writ of habeas corpus. In order to do so, we must purchase the police reports of the original 2013 case, which will be used by Mona’s paralegal as he writes a comprehensive summary of the inconsistencies and discriminatory actions taken by the DA in Mona’s case.
The documents will cost us a total of $238 to purchase from the County Clerk.
We are reaching out to you to once again ask for your help in securing the freedom of an innocent woman and, in so doing, taking a small step towards ending the prison industrial complex itself.
To donate to Mona’s GoFundMe, please click here
September 1st, 2020: As of late August, 2020, Mona’s offender status has been changed from a G3 to a G4. This means that Mona has been moved from medium security to high security in terms of how she exists within prison and what resources she is allowed to have access to. G3 offenders can go to the rec yard, can go to respite, eat their meals in the dining hall, can have some visitors, and are allowed some free range when moving about the prison. Those with G4 status are not allowed to leave their cells except on very rare occasions (perhaps once or twice a day to use the bathroom or make a phone call.) Mona was having a non-violent disagreement with the person who slept in the next bunk over concerning cleanliness of the bunk area. Mona believes this person wrongly accused her of assault because of said disagreement. She has assured me that she never physically assaulted this person and that video surveillance will confirm this. As a result of the reported assault, COs gave Mona a “major case” (basically a demerit which results in a prisoner being demoted to a more restricted security class with fewer privileges.) The paralegal who is helping out with Mona’s case informed me on the phone yesterday that last time he wrote to Mona, he told her, “Whatever you do, don’t get written up for a major case because that will hurt you if we try to get you back to court.” A few days later, Mona got written up for the assault. The paralegal (who wishes to remain anonymous in case TDCJ finds out about his involvement with Mona and makes it even more difficult for him to communicate with her) told me that he’s fairly certain that Mona’s major case was handed down in retaliation for his work with her. Mona will retain her G4 status for 6 months and will remain in solitary confinement conditions until she has a chance to return to her G3 status. Mona has appealed her G4 classification. Re-classifications are rarely ever overruled.
August 1st-Present, 2020: Mona and her fellow prisoners are being repeatedly denied respite (access to air conditioned facilities) inside the K3B dorm at Lane Murray Unit. Because Lane Murray Unit does not have air conditioning outside of areas such as the chapel and the library, respite is an essential way for prisoners to cool off during hot days. It is summertime in Texas and temperatures are often in the triple digits throughout the day. For officers to be denying prisoners respite in any climate (but especially on dangerously hot days) is inhumane and negligent.
Here are the names of the COs who have been denying Mona and other prisoners respite:
Report these abuses to the warden at Lane Murray Unit by calling: (254) 865-2000 or visit the “How Can I Help” page to learn how you can report this abuse to Texas Senator John Whitmire.
June 30th, 2020: Gamma received the following letter from the Office of the Ombudsman containing the results of their “investigation” into inhumane conditions for prisoners at Crain Unit:
“Dear Ms. Lister,
This letter is in response to your concerns addressed to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Office of Ombudsman regarding offender Mona Nelson. You expressed concern regarding several issues at the Crain Unit. You stated the water was undrinkable, staff do not wear name tags or
personal protective equipment (PPE), denied soap, and sexual misconduct by staff.
The Crain Unit conducts test on the water once a month and if any issues are found they are addressed immediately. Offenders are issued seven bars of soap each week and soap is available upon request. Allegations of staff misconduct, whether from an offender, family member or a friend are taken
seriously. Your concerns regarding sexual and physical abuse were forwarded to the appropriate officials and an investigation was initiated. Violations of misconduct by staff, when confirmed, are addressed in accordance with established administrative procedures. Such decisions are considered
confidential and not releasable to the general public. We assure you that staff misconduct is neither condoned nor tolerated by this agency and appropriate action is taken if it is substantiated that such has occurred. Offender Nelson was interviewed, and she stated that she has not been sexually harassed or coerced for sexual favors. An Offender Protection Investigation (OPI) was conducted and the Unit Classification Committee recommended a unit transfer. On June 19, 2020, she was reassigned to the Murray Unit.
Please feel free to contact this office should you have any future concerns.”
Melodee Blalock, Ombudsman I
TDCJ Office of Ombudsman
June 19th, 2020: Mona transferred to Lane Murray Unit from Christina Melton Crain Unit because of an OPI (Offender Protection Investigation) she filed after an corrections officer at Crain Unit handcuffed and physically assaulted her. Investigators and officials at TDCJ and Crain decided that the transfer would be in Mona’s best interest.
May 19th, 2020: The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Office of the Ombudsman, reports to Gamma that they have opened an investigation into the treatment of prisoners at Crain and Riverside Units.
May 3rd-5th 2020:
Gamma phones the Warden’s Office at Crain Unit per Mona’s request to report the assault. Warden Jaqueline Jones assures us that the issue will be looked into.
Gamma also calls and emails the office of Senator John Whitmire, Chair of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee (per Mona’s request) as well as the TDCJ Ombudsman’s Office to demand an investigation into the April 18th assault (see entry above) as well into other abuses carried out by the TDCJ that Mona has reported over the past few months.
May 1st 2020: #Justice4Mona founded.
April 18th, 2020: Mona handcuffed and physically assaulted by a corrections officer who entered her dorm without wearing a protective face mask. Prison regulations require all COs to wear protective face masks inside the facility to reduce the spread of COVID-19 . The assault occurred after Mona informed the CO that she intended to repor the fact that he was not wearing his mask to his superior, Major Alexander. Mona does not know the name of the officer who handcuffed and assaulted her. She reports that he is a white male with glasses and that his name begins with “N.” For more information about the incident, please read the following entry in Mona’s Diary: https://justice4mona.com/2020/05/10/4-19-2020/
June 2016: Gamma and Mona begin writing to each other through Black & Pink’s pen pal program.
March 10th, 2015: Mona’s sentence affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas.
August 27th, 2013: Mona sentenced to life in prison without parole by Judge Jeannine Barr of the 182nd District Court of Harris County, Texas. Mona chose to be tried by the judge rather than by a panel of her peers, hoping that the judge would have a more informed and impartial opinion of the case.